Fisheries Research Articles

Prediction of potentially significant fish harvest using metrics of accessibility in northern Western Australia

Document Type


Publication Date


Journal Title

Journal of the Royal Society of Western Australia




fisheries management, customary harvest, recreational fishing, Kimberley, intermittent rivers


Aquaculture and Fisheries | Marine Biology


Management of freshwater fisheries in northern Australia faces challenges that combine Aboriginal and recreational harvests, intermittent river flows and remote, expansive management jurisdictions. Using relationships between fishing pressure (vis-à-vis ‘accessibility’) and the abundance of fish species targeted by Aboriginal and recreational fishers (derived from the Fitzroy River, Western Australia), the potential fishing pressure in subcatchments across the entire Kimberley region was assessed. In addition to the Fitzroy and Ord River, known to experience substantial fishing pressure, this assessment identified that subcatchments in the Lennard and King Edward river basins were also likely to experience relatively high fishing activity. Management of freshwater fisheries in the Kimberley region prioritises aquatic assets at most risk from the potential impact of all aquatic resource use and employs barramundi (Lates calcarifer) and silver cobbler (Neoarius midgleyi) as indicator species to track changes in their condition. Extending the existing monitoring of these indicator species (currently undertaken in the Ord and Fitzroy rivers) to include popular fishing areas in subcatchments of the Lennard and King Edward river basins will provide a better understanding of the current fishing pressure and its impact on the fisheries resource in the Kimberley region, as well as confirmation of the proposed method’s predictive capability for this region. The ability to predict those areas that may experience increased fishing pressure in the future, offers an opportunity for the early monitoring and detection of any changes in the fisheries resource.